40 Filipinos in Libya want to return home as virus, conflict strike: envoy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2020 01:30 PM | Updated as of May 18 2020 01:31 PM

MANILA - Some 40 Filipinos in Libya have requested the Philippine government to bring them home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict, an envoy said Monday.

The Philippine embassy in Tripoli, however, needs to coordinate with the country's nearby diplomatic outposts to get Filipinos home because of lockdown measures against the pandemic, Ambassador Elmer Cato said in a virtual press briefing.

"Hindi tayo basta-basta makapagpadala ng eroplano para kunin sila. We have to work with colleagues in other countries like in Morocco," he said.

Half of 2,300 Filipino migrant workers in Libya are in the health sector while the rest mostly work for oil firms, he said.

"Okay pa tayo. Our main concern really is the...rockets dito. Syempre worried yung embahada na yung risk na maging collateral damage ang ating mga kababayan ay napakalaki," he said, adding that 2 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been sent to the embassy to assess the situation.

"Nakapasok yung labanan sa areas na malapit na kung saan nakatira o nagtatrabaho ang mnga kababayan natin...May contingency plans tayo but because of the current lockdown medyo mahihirapan tayo in terms of repatriating Filipinos who want to go home."

Two Filipinos have been wounded so far since tensions rose last year between the UN-recognized government in Libya and strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar, Cato said.

The embassy has repeatedly urged Filipinos to avail its repatriation services.

The embassy has so far distributed 200 food packs from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and cash aid to 100 beneficiaries, Cato said.

Libya has so far recorded 65 cases of COVID-19 with 3 deaths, Cato said, compared with its neighbors Algeria with around 7,000 cases and Tunisia with some 1,000 cases.